Crucifixions were a common thing during Roman rule. They served not so much as death penalties as they were a form of social control. Bodies on crosses were strategically placed at crossroads to remind the people of the power of Rome to crush their dreams for freedom. In that way, they were more like the lynchings that took so many black men’s lives in the Jim Crow south than they were modern forms of capital punishment. “Every cross is a lynching tree, and every lynching tree is a cross,” wrote James Cone. Jesus’ trial was like so many trials of black men during that era: a sham.
Pilate plays a pivotal role in the trial, even though he was just trying to find middle ground, going between the religious officials and Jesus. He was just trying to do his job. Something many of us try to do as we navigate our circumstances.
John 13:1-17 – Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
The rituals of the Christian life are ordinary things made extraordinary for a moment. Jesus has a knack for this, taking what is ordinary and turning it back for us to look at it again: song, bread, water, wine.
As we anticipate the coming of Holy Week in a few weeks, Melissa invites us into a patient act of love. Consider making space in your life to get into the story that unfolds, to trace it through the week in the people you see around you, to take time off to live it out.
John 11:1-44 – The Death of Lazarus
Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, a time for prayer as we anticipate with sorrow Jesus’ death. This year Ash Wednesday was marked by the death of 17 students and teachers at the High School in Parkland, Fl. The Ash Wednesday cross contains ashes representing death. Melissa reminds us that the same oil is used to mark us as Christians when we are baptized. The scripture recounts Lazarus’ death and resurrection. A resurrection that allows us to believe in a new world where we are safe in God’s light. A world where we no longer fear death.